Thursday, 2 August 2012 11:08 AM
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is calling for more competition and greater consumer protection in the home insulation market ahead of the launch of the Green Deal.
The government’s competition watchdog launched a probe of the market in April after high levels of consumer complaints and concern that it was not working well.
It received complaints that some traders are not always recommending the most suitable type of insulation, including inappropriate materials in houses suffering from damp, and that customers are finding it hard to get quick and effective redress when they have a problem.
The Green Deal, which allows householders to insulate their homes at no up-front cost and pay for it through savings in their energy bills, starts in October.
The OFT recommends that the government should set up a single body with clear responsibility for longer-term monitoring of the quality of installations and changes to improve redress schemes.
The watchdog also found that there are few manufacturers supplying home insulation products and that it can take ages to get new products approved for use in the market. It recommends speeding up the process to make it easier for new entrants.
As part of a wider energy efficiency project looking at products like double glazing, solar panels and boilers, it also reviewed 4,000 contacts made by customers with Consumer Direct.
This uncovered problems including confusing and defective paperwork, potentially aggressive and misleading sales techniques and concern about the quality of products and services. The OFT says it is continuing to look at options to tackle them including potential enforcement action where appropriate.
OFT director of services, infrastructure and public markets, Nisha Arora, said: “The home insulation sector is now worth some £700m and it is important that people receive good quality, well-installed insulation that makes their homes more energy efficient.
“We hope that the recommendations in this report and our continuing work in this sector will encourage greater competition and choice and give consumers increased confidence to have insulation installed.”